The Prime Minister is in full PR mode, attempting to assuage public anger over his abysmal leadership, but executive editor Michelle Pini and managing editor Dave Donovan discuss why we should not believe his climate change promises.
FIRST COMES THE CRIME, then comes the cover-up. The crime, of course, is wilful negligence. The criminals? A political grouping so beholden to certain vested interests, it is prepared to sacrifice all of our heritage and future – all our commonweal – in the interests of power and fortune. Flimsy and momentary tokens at best.
We have all seen the Prime Minister express, finally, some sort of contrition. Apparently, now, feeling the intense anger of the people, he said – in uncertain terms – he might look to strengthen Australia's response to climate change. Sort of. He spoke of “historic change”, though not what this might be.
SCOMO BURNS FOR US (IN HAWAII)
This, after he holidayed in Hawaii as Australia burned — apparently, not one day before his scheduled return, though this has been reported otherwise in much of the ever-compliant media. Many other key ministers were also overseas on holiday, or at least out of public view, including NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton (who has remained mute throughout). Now, Morrison has also said he probably should not have gone to Hawaii.
This man who brought a lacquered lump of coal into the Parliament of our nation – an analogue of the cinders so much of our poor arid nation has become – has now said he might ”look” at our emissions targets.
Everyone – except his Government – has already seen them as woefully inadequate, of course. But immediately, reports surfaced that the Coalition was split on this – even this – diffident, uncertain arse-saving asseveration.
We don't believe Scotty from Marketing and neither should you.
THE CAMPAIGN WARMS UP
Because what comes next is the fossil fuel companies – coal, oil and gas, the ones who really own the aptly named Coalition – turning the screws on their paid political ponies, and launching the mother of all PR campaigns.
Like the one they launched for the mining tax.
It has already begun. And it will probably work, because these corporations have all the money. They have all the power. And, together with the Murdoch media, they can indoctrinate the population incessantly, until it becomes impossible to distinguish the facts.
This, as we have seen time and again, is a triple-band assault. The corporations spout the propaganda. The media keep presenting the propaganda as facts. And the politicians, keep reiterating the misinformation. Until the lies become thought of as facts themselves.
Today, there are chinks in the collective armour of this triple-action assault, however. Despite the money. Despite the resources. Despite the clever strategies.
Every now and then, the truth will out. These bushfires, so devastating in their intensity, so all-encompassing in their power and so bleedingly obvious a result of our actions and non-actions, are making themselves seen, heard and felt.
This reality, except in rare outbursts, has not come from our mainstream media, which continues to present “two sides” to climate change. Which continues to give voice to ignorant, unqualified “commentators”. Which persists in presenting the Prime Minister and his predominantly ill-informed Cabinet as reasonable in their claims — with most “interviews” taking the form of public relations events. And, which continues to allow inane lies and claims, easily verified by anyone with access to Google, to go unchallenged. (Which may explain why we were denied a properly functioning NBN.)
In full throttle this week, the PR machine was busily presenting a contrite PM — a man who makes mistakes, who is willing to learn from them and who puts the country first. The right-wing nut jobs, meanwhile, were already in frenzied overdrive, trying to get as many appearances and mentions chalked up in support of climate change as having no relevance to anything, but especially bushfires, and talking up the “action” of Scott Morrison.
This had begun as people were being evacuated from the South Coast of NSW. Immediately after the bushfire report, Peta Credlin’s “razor-sharp” commentary on the crisis – such as that dumping coal is “crackers” – was broadcast over the local airwaves for good measure. And as residents and holidaymakers queued and waited in line to escape the imminent bushfires, the Daily Telegraph greeted them before the power was reinstated, or the promised arrival of the military — just to reinforce the message.
Then, the PM’s much-anticipated exclusive ABC interview with David Speers was, it has to be said, a public relations coup. There were just enough tough questions, just the right number of interruptions by Speers and just the appropriate amount of prepared answers for the PM to appear credible, contrite and decisive.
SCOTTY FEELS THE HEAT
However, with the truth singeing the retinas of the global media – a fourth estate still able to offer an array of views, despite the Murdoch empire’s influence in the UK and U.S – the absurdity of the Australian Government and our local media has been very definitely held up for derision and ridicule.
The facts – ever-present in the burning pudding of proof that is the current Australian landscape – became impossible to hide.
The PM’s physical, mental and emotional absence, as well as his complete lack of action or strategy, finally hit the people – who were previously lulled into a false sense of security with Scotty from Marketing’s “fair dinkum” image – and they were livid.
Try as he might, Morrison was unable to shake anyone’s hand, avoid the anger or appear empathetic (empathy lessons notwithstanding) in any way. Footage of the PM emerging from his newly acquired BMW at the fire-ravaged town of Cobargo for another photo-op went viral. The picture of a PM being told to "fuck off" by the people, while he turned his back on a bushfire victim just as she asked for help, became etched into the eyes of the world. Gone, at least for a while, was the daggy dad or down-to-Earth Aussie bloke.
And his litany of insensitive comments, from the “tremendous” funeral of a firefighter he attended, to the complete insensitivity of announcing to the community of Kangaroo Island who had lost two people, that at least there had been no fatalities. All the indignities, failures and pratfalls have begun to sear into the collective consciousness an image of the real Scotty from Marketing.
BURNING THE COMMONWEAL
This view has been reflected in the polls this week as Albanese has overtaken ScoMo as preferred PM. Of course, polls, particularly Newspoll, will never again be taken as a serious indicator of anything much after the 2019 Election, but the scale of Morrison’s failure in this particular poll is at least a sign of change.
One voice of protest has also emerged from within the Coalition ranks. Science Minister Karen Andrews (yes, we have one) has spoken out about climate change deniers wasting precious time, which they undoubtedly are. However, Ms Andrews also said she was confident Energy Minister Angus Taylor could deliver the policies needed. [Ahem.]
And now, appearing as if from nowhere, the voice of James Murdoch – a son of the Sun King himself – has criticised the tawdry family business for its climate-change denial. Unfortunately, he is not the heir to the throne, but again, it’s a start.
The incalculable toll on our commonweal, our heritage, burning up before our eyes has taken on a life of its own. At last, Australians are waking up to the fact that, once the commons are gone, they may not ever recover.
Maybe the triple-action assault method is finally starting to burn down? Maybe it’s getting too hot for Scott? Maybe it’s time for Scott to trot?
This editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter. These editorials are usually only available to subscribers and may be read online in the IA members-only area.
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